Elisabeth Grümmer

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Elisabeth Grümmer , née Elisabeth Schilz (born March 31, 1911 in Niederjeutz , Reichsland Alsace-Lorraine , German Empire ; † November 6, 1986 in Warendorf , North Rhine-Westphalia ) was a German opera singer . She was one of the outstanding German-speaking sopranos of the 20th century .


Elisabeth Grümmer born Schilz came in Niederjeutz (now Yutz in Moselle / France ) to the world. Her father worked as a foreman in the repair shop of the Reichseisenbahnen and was also an enthusiastic choir singer. When, after the First World War, Lorraine returned to the French Republic on January 10, 1919 in accordance with the Versailles Peace Treaty and her father was supposed to give up his position as a railway official, the family moved to Meiningen . Her father was not only able to continue his job with the Deutsche Reichsbahn there, but also took part in the choir of the Meiningen Theater and thus aroused his daughter's enthusiasm for the theater.

At the end of the 1920s, Elisabeth Schilz was Acting -Elevin at the Hochschule für Schauspielkunst am Meininger Theater, where she first began as a successful young actress in classical roles. The thorough training as an actress later benefited her during her stage appearances as an opera star. At first, however, her artistic career seemed to come to an early end in the mid-1930s. She married the violinist and concert master Detlef Grümmer and withdrew into family life as the mother of a daughter.

When her husband got a job as Kapellmeister at the Theater Aachen and she had to find her way around the new environment, the desire grew in her to resume her interrupted artistic career. She took singing lessons and was rediscovered as a singer in the early 1940s by Herbert von Karajan , who was then general music director in Aachen . In 1941 he surprisingly enabled her to appear in a Parsifal performance as a flower girl. Elisabeth Grümmer used the chance convincingly and from now on her singing career quickly picked up despite the turmoil of World War II . An engagement in Duisburg in 1942 ended after a short time when the theater was destroyed by bombing. This was followed by a brief engagement in Prague until 1944 . Her greatest personal stroke of fate struck her in 1944, when the family's apartment in Aachen was completely destroyed by a direct bombing hit and her husband was killed in the process. Detlef Grümmer was the great love of her life. In his memory, she wanted to successfully continue her artistic career, raise their daughter and not have a second marriage.

After the war, Elisabeth Grümmer looked for a new beginning in Berlin . In 1946 she became a member of the ensemble of the Städtische Oper Berlin (today Deutsche Oper Berlin ), where she developed into an outstanding, internationally recognized singer. She had celebrated appearances abroad as early as 1951 in Covent Garden as Eva in Wagner's Meistersingern or in 1953 and 1954 as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival under Wilhelm Furtwängler . In 1951 she received the first German Critics' Prize in the music category. During the 1950s she became an opera star , especially with the lyrical soprano roles in German opera. She was considered the ideal cast for Agathe in Weber's Freischütz , sang Pamina in the Magic Flute and many Wagner and Strauss roles. Although she moved to her house in Alsbach an der Bergstrasse in 1957, West Berlin remained the center of her life during the 1950s and 1960s, from where she undertook concert and guest tours to leading opera houses and concert halls. Among other things, she made guest appearances in Buenos Aires , Hamburg , London , Milan , Munich , New York , Paris , Salzburg , Vienna and, from 1957, eight years in a row at the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth . Her big roles in Bayreuth were Eva in the Meistersinger , Elsa in Lohengrin and Freia and Gutrune in the Ring of the Nibelung .

Elisabeth Grümmer was also very successful as a lieder singer. In her programs she chose an ideal mixture of classical and less popular works of song art. Her recitals were artistic experiences of high standing, as were her arias in the Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach and her soprano solo in Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms .

In 1965 she received a professorship at the Musikhochschule (today Faculty of Music at the Berlin University of the Arts ) and took over a professorship in Paris in the mid-1970s. She gave her farewell performance on the opera stage on January 1, 1972 in Berlin as Marschallin in Rosenkavalier , in which she had often sung the Octavian earlier . From 1977 until her death she was chairman of the "Society of Friends of the State University for Music and Performing Arts in Berlin eV" (today Paul Hindemith Society in Berlin eV ). Elisabeth Grümmer became an honorary member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1986 . She died that same year in Warendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia and was buried in the neighboring Everswinkel .

Street sign Elisabeth-Grümmer-Stieg in Alsbach-Hähnlein on the day of the inauguration

In her honor in Alsbach-Hähnlein the traffic and beautification association Alsbach named a stairway between Weinbergstrasse and Hochstrasse "Elisabeth-Grümmer-Stieg" across from her house on April 4, 2014.

Discography (selection)


  • "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss , conductor Wilhelm Schüchter , EMI CLASSICS 8264302 CD album (2000)
  • "Der Freischütz" by Carl Maria von Weber, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, EMI CLASSICS 5674192 2CD album (2000)
  • “Lohengrin” by Richard Wagner, conductor Rudolf Kempe , EMI CLASSICS 567415 3CD album
  • "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck , conductor Herbert von Karajan, EMI CLASSICS 5670612 2CD album (1999)
  • "Don Giovanni" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, EMI CLASSICS 7638602 3CD album (1991)
  • "The Marriage of Figaro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, RELIEF B0001M64VQ 2CD album (2004)
  • "Tannhäuser" by Richard Wagner, conductor Franz Konwitschny , EMI Classics, 0777 7 63215 2 3

Religious music

  • " Matthäus-Passion " BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, EMI CLASSICS 5655092 2CD album (1995)
  • Johannes Passion BWV 245 by Johann Sebastian Bach, conductor Karl Forster , EMI CLASSICS 7642342 2CD album (1992)
  • "Cantatas - Cantatas" by Johann Sebastian Bach, conductor Kurt Thomas , BERLIN CLASSICS B000024WMM CD (1996)
  • "Bach MADE IN GERMANY" Vol. II cantatas, motets, Christmas oratorio, conductor Kurt Thomas, BERLIN CLASSICS B000031W6B 8CD album (1999)
  • A German Requiem Op. 45 by Johannes Brahms, conductor Rudolf Kempe , EMI 7 64705 2 (recorded 1955)


  • "Elisabeth Grümmer, songs by Schubert , Brahms , Grieg and Verdi " , musical direction Hugo Diez and Richard Kraus, TESTAMENT B000003XJQ (1996)
  • "Elisabeth Grümmer, recital, songs by Mendelssohn , Schumann , Schoeck , Wolf " , ORFEO 506001B CD (2000)
  • "Recital 1970, songs by Beethoven , Brahms, Mozart, Reger , Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Wolf" , conductor Richard Kraus , GALA B000028CLY 2CD album (2001)

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